Jack Ferver’s Everything Is Imaginable returns this week to New York Live Arts as part of the multidisciplinary American Realness festival. Below is our review of the work’s world premiere in April 2018; don’t miss this second chance to catch this extraordinary piece.
A few weeks before the world premiere of Everything Is Imaginable, New York City treasure Jack Ferver tore his calf while preparing a piece for Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung at the Guggenheim. But leave it to the Wisconsin-born actor, writer, dancer, choreographer, teacher, and director to incorporate the injury into the narrative of the two-act, seventy-minute show. As the audience enters the theater at New York Live Arts, the curtain is down, a rarity at the venue, upping the growing sense of anticipation that accompanies every Ferver work. The curtain soon opens on Jeremy Jacob’s playful set, consisting of four white cardboard columns with drawings of leaves on them, along with a central cardboard chandelier hovering at the top of a screen in the back. It immediately immerses the crowd into the wonders of Ferver’s imagination while exposing the artifice behind staged productions in general. The first act features four queer men in sheer, butt-revealing outfits dancing solos inspired by their childhood memories and one major role model: American Ballet Theater principal James Whiteside, in a short, glittering dress of silver sequins, pays tribute to Judy Garland, dancing to Garland’s version of Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York”; Martha Graham principal dancer Lloyd Knight honors Graham, moving to a recording of the legendary choreographer speaking about dance; dancer and actor Garen Scribner slides across the stage in socks and does spins like his hero, champion skater Brian Boitano, to the sound of ice skates being sharpened and gliding across the ice; and longtime Ferver collaborator Bartelme, a former ballet dancer and current costume designer (as part of Reid and Harriet Design, who made the costumes for the show), wears a long orange mane and dances with horse movements, since his idol is My Little Pony. Each solo combines humor with beautiful movement, taking advantage of each dancer’s strengths while adding the charm and whimsy that are mainstays of Ferver’s choreography. The four star turns are followed by a solo about sunglasses and then an ensemble piece danced to “club music,” including a Martha Graham–esque sexualized orgy that is uproariously funny.
After a ten-minute intermission (with the curtains closed), the second act begins with Ferver (Chambre, Night Light Bright Light) by himself onstage, standing over a miniature version of the set from the first act, evoking Stonehenge from This Is Spinal Tap. In a sheer bodysuit recalling Michelle Pfeiffer’s garb as Catwoman in Batman Returns, the compact Ferver towers over the tiny columns and chandelier, emphasizing his power as a creator while also poking fun at it. Ferver talks about his calf injury, explaining how that limited his ability to dance — his doctor advised him not to move forward, which is not part of his vocabulary, literally or figuratively — and forced him to reimagine the work, and discusses his difficult childhood, friendless and bullied for his overt homosexuality; growing up gay is a regular theme in his oeuvre. As always, his stage persona is that of a devilish cherub, wild and wacky one moment, making the audience roll around their seats with laughter, and then deadly serious the next, raising disturbing elements from his life that may or may not be true, causing everyone to reconsider their reactions. He’s joined by Bartelme, who looks lovely in a fringe dress, and the two dance together to heartbreaking effect while Ferver, soldiering on despite his injury, goes on to describe his process of writing a memoir, which took place alone, terrified, in a strange house, in the dark. Ferver is no longer friendless or alone, as evidenced not only by the crowd response to the supremely personal show but by the long line of well-wishers who waited to hug and congratulate him for giving them yet another unique, meaningful, and vastly entertaining experience, shining a light on his life, and ours, as only he can.
The First Nations Dialogues Lenapehoking/New York festival takes place January 5-12 with live performances, community gatherings, discussions, and other special programs focusing on Indigenous cultures in the US, Canada, and Australia. The centerpiece is KIN, a series of events curated by Emily Johnson that includes three conversations with Paola Balla, Genevieve Grieves, and Johnson; a fabric workshop with Spiderwoman Theater cofounder Muriel Miguel; the play-reading series “Reflections of Native Voices,” with Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Carolyn Dunn, Ed Bourgeois, Henu Josephine Tarrant, Rachael Maza, and Nicholson Billey; presentations by Joshua Pether and S. J. Norman; and the outdoor ceremonial fire gathering “Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter.” Kicking off the Global First Nations Performance Network, First Nations Dialogues is held in partnership with the Lenape Center, Amerinda, American Indian Community House, Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Danspace Project, La MaMa, Performance Space New York, Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective, Under the Radar, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the International Society for the Performing Arts. Below are some of the highlights.
Saturday, January 5
Tëmikèkw, an honoring and welcome gathering, with Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, and Deborah Ratelle of Spiderwoman Theater, Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee) of Amerinda, the SilverCloud Singers led by Kevin Tarrant of the Hopi and HoChunk Nations, Laura Ortman of the Apache Nation, and fancy shawl dancer Anatasia McAllister of the Colville Confederated Tribes and Hopi Nation, Danspace Project, free with RSVP, 12:30 – 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 5, 7:00
Sunday, January 6, 3:00
Jupiter Orbiting, by Joshua Pether, immersive movement-based work about dissociation and trauma, Performance Space New York, $15
Tuesday, January 8, 7:30
Cicatrix 1 (that which is taken/that which remains), by S. J Norman, four-hour durational ritual, Performance Space New York, $15
Wednesday, January 9, 10:00
Thursday, January 10, 10:00
Friday, January 11, 1:00
Serpentine, by Daina Ashbee, performed by Areli Moran to music composed by Jean-Françoise Blouin, La MaMa, Downstairs Theater, $20-$25
Friday, January 10, 2:00, 6:00, 8:00
Footwork/Technique, by Mariaa Randall, incorporating contemporary Aboriginal footwork and dance legacies, Performance Space New York, $15
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, January 4, and Saturday, January 5, $30, 7:30
The annual Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia, previously known as the Contemporary Dance Showcase, takes place at Japan Society January 4-5 with works from three countries. From Japan, butoh legend Akira Kasai’s Pollen Revolution, which marked Kasai’s New York debut at Japan Society in 2002, has been reimagined for his son, Mitsutake Kasai, who will perform the solo, which incorporates several costume changes involving gender shifts. Taiwan also honors family with the North American premiere of Kuan-Hsiang Liu’s award-winning Kids, a tribute to his mother that includes recorded excerpts of her voice as she battled cancer (and will be performed by Liu, Yu-Yuan Huang, and Wan-Lun Yu). And from Korea, Goblin Party presents the North American premiere of Silver Knife, a work, inspired by the traditional eunjangdo, for four women that explores female identity and expectations, directed and choreographed by Jinho Lim and Kyungmin Ji and featuring Lim, Lee, Hyun Min Ahn, and Yeonju Lee. Opening night will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception.
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.
January 3-7, $10-$40
The Joyce welcomes in 2019 with American Dance Platform, a five-day program consisting of works by six exciting companies. On January 3 and 7, the bold and always entertaining Stephen Petronio Company will present 2018’s Hardness 10, with music by Nico Muhly and costumes by Patricia Field, and Steve Paxton’s 1986 Excerpt from Goldberg Variations. Also on the double bill is Martha Graham Dance Company, performing Steps in the Street and Prelude to Action from 1936’s antiwar Chronicle and Pontus Lidberg’s 2016 Woodland. On January 4 and 6, Philly’s Ballet X takes the stage with Trey McIntyre’s 2018 The Boogeyman, featuring music by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and Earth, Wind & Fire, Matthew Neenan’s 2014 Increasing, set to the first movement of Franz Schubert’s Quintet in C Major, and a surprise premiere; the company is sharing the bill with another Philadelphian, Rafael Xavier, making his Joyce debut with Point of Interest. And on January 5 and 6, Ephrat Asherie Dance presents the new Nazareth Suite #1 and 2016’s Riff This, Riff That, the latter a collaboration between Bessie winner Ephrat and her brother, jazz pianist Ehud Asherie, with an all-star lineup, while the inimitable Ronald K. Brown/Evidence teams up with Arturo O’Farrill and Resist for this year’s New Conversations: Iron Meets Water, inspired by the huntress spirit Oxossi; Evidence will also perform Upside Down, an excerpt from 1998’s Destiny.
Abrons Arts Center and other venues
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
Since 2010, Abrons Arts Center has presented American Realness, a multidisciplinary festival of dance, music, theater, discourse, literature, and more. The 2019 lineup features a stellar lineup of creators, including Marjani Forté-Saunders, Jack Ferver, nora chipaumire, Reggie Wilson, Julian F. May, Miguel Gutierrez, Gillian Walsh, and the Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble staging works across four boroughs, at such venues as Performance Space New York, the Chocolate Factory, Danspace Project, La MaMa, and Gibney. Below are only some of the highlights.
Moon Fate Sin, by Gillian Walsh, location and ticketing TBD, January 4-6
100% Pop / Shebeen Remix, by nora chipaumire, Jack, January 4-6 and 10-12, $25
Everything Is Imaginable, by Jack Ferver, New York Live Arts, January 7-12, $15-$25
The Bridge Called My Ass, by Miguel Gutierrez, Chocolate Factory Theater, January 8-19, $20
Folk Incest, by Juliana F. May, Abrons Arts Center, January 9-12, $21
UNDER THE RADAR
Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
The Public Theater’s annual Under the Radar Festival invites adventurous theatergoers to experience cutting-edge, experimental theater and music from around the world. The 2019 iteration features works from twenty-one artists from nine countries, with most tickets costing a mere thirty bucks. Below are some of the highlights.
Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True, by Ifeoma Fafunwa, January 3, 5, 6, 7, Public Theater, Martinson Theater, $30
Frankenstein, by Manual Cinema, concept by Drew Dir, January 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, Public Theater, LuEsther Theater, $30
Minor Character, New Saloon adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, January 4-13, Public Theater, Martinson Theater, $30
BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE! The Penny Arcade Sex and Censorship Show, by Penny Arcade, January 3, 6, 10, 12, 13, Joe’s Pub, $35
Incoming! Macbeth in Stride, by Whitney White, Public Theater, Shiva Theater, $25
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 4-7, $10-$20
The annual Live Artery winter performance festival at New York Live Arts brings back popular shows from the previous year as well as advance looks at works-in-progress. This year’s creators include such fab dancers and choreographers and twi-ny faves as Jack Ferver, Kimberly Bartosik, Yanira Castro, Netta Yerushalmy, and Joanna Kotze, with tickets between twenty and thirty bucks.
what will we be like when we get there, by Joanna Kotze, January 4, 8:00, and January 5, 12 noon, $20
Last Audience, by Yanira Castro / a canary torsi, January 5, 5:00, $10
I hunger for you, by Kimberly Bartosik / daela, January 5, 7:00, January 7, 5:00, $10
Body Comes Apart, by Molly Lieber & Eleanor Smith, January 6, 2:00, $10
Paramodernities (3 Installments), by Netta Yerushalmy, January 7, 7:00, $10